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Seen from Polar Rover on 2003 Churchill hotel based trip Seen from Polar Rover on 2015 Tundra Lodge trip

The similarities in the photos are striking. Polar bears live about 18 years on average, with some recorded at 30 years, so it could possibly be the same bear in the same habitat. More likely just the same habitat.

 

Both trips were with Natural Habitat, a top-notch and very professional nature/wildlife company that I’ve used four times now. They are the only travel company that is carbon neutral as of Nov 2015. As a multiple returnee I got some nice perks such as several quality pieces of clothes/gear. In addition, Nat Hab’s air dept booked the best price I could find on flights with no service charge. For non-repeaters, there would be a small fee for using their air dept. Four trips is nothing. There’s one lady out there who has done 46 with Nat Hab in around a decade’s time.

 

The Oct 27-Nov 3, 2015 trip I took that spent 4 nights on the tundra at Great White Bear Tundra Lodge, allowing 3 4-hour Polar Rover excursions: http://www.nathab.com/polar-bear-tours/tundra-lodge-adventure/

 

Closest current trip to the Oct 25-Nov 2, 2003 trip I took included about 12 hours mobile bear viewing during 2 Polar Rover excursions in daylight hours, but now the trips generally include about 16 hours mobile bear viewing during 2 Polar Rover excursions in daylight hours. Time is also spent in Churchill: http://www.nathab.com/polar-bear-tours/ultimate-churchill/

 

The Great White Bear Tundra Lodge parts are in blue and the Churchill hotel based parts are in orange. Photos of the two trips are also labeled as lodge or hotel-based

 

The sightings on both trips were probably above average. In 2003, the guide said it was his best trip ever, though he had only a few trips under his belt. Overall we had about 40 bear sightings of at least 20 bears. Another 50-60 bears were seen from the 2-hour helicopter trip. In 2015 our guide with 7 years experience stated our first morning was his best-ever outing on the tundra. He also had not previously seen a mother and cub come to the Tundra Lodge before and we had two visits—both day and night. Overall we had about 50 bear sightings of about 25 bears.

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First photographable sighting from the Polar Rover on 2015 Tundra Lodge Trip – Cub of the year (COY) First photographable sighting from the Polar Rover on 2003 Churchill based trip –2 year old cub

The blood visible on the fur is from a seal they found. Seal meat this time of year is quite rare.

Seeing mothers and cubs is a lucky find. To have that be my first photographable sighting from the Polar Rover on both trips is doubly lucky.

 

 

 

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This mother and Cub of the Year (COY) were seen from the GWB Tundra Lodge, 2015. It is unusual to have females and cubs at the lodge

because of the frequent presence of the males around the lodge. Males are attracted by the interesting smells.

 

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Timing

Of course nature is never completely predictable and climate change only exacerbates the unpredictability, but the last days of Oct, first week of Nov are very good, based on my experience of two trips and that of the experts and other travelers I have spoken with.

 

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Top – Seen from Polar Rover in 2015. Bottom –Seen at Great White Bear Tundra Lodge, 2015

 

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Seen from Polar Rover on Churchill based hotel trip in 2003

 

The bears start gathering in mid-October along the Hudson Bay in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. As fresh water enters the bay from the Churchill River, it freezes at a higher temperature than the bay’s salt water, meaning the Churchill area offers the first escape to the ice for hungry bears eager to hunt seals. The number of bears increases (there were about 200 counted in the management area by park staff during my 2015 trip with up to 1000 amassing along the western coast of the Hudson) until the mid-November freeze-up (now defined as 10% of the bay frozen.)

 

 

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Waiting for more ice. Seen from the Polar Rover on 2015 Tundra Lodge Trip

 

The closer to mid-November you go, the more bears you may see milling around--until the freeze, after which you’re lucky to see any. To reduce the odds of missing the bears altogether, earlier in the season before the freezing starts is safer, but there may be fewer bears around. In 1991, there was a very early freeze-up and the bears left right after Halloween.

 

The females and cubs tend to delay their appearance until the end of Oct or start of Nov. On both of my trips (Oct 28 & 29 arrival on the tundra) ours was the first group of the season for our guide(s) to view cubs. There may not be snow on the ground earlier in the season, meaning the setting is shades of brown and gray, not white.

 

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Seen from Polar Rover on 2015 Tundra Lodge trip Seen from the Tundra Lodge on 2015 Trip – not common to see cubs at the lodge

 

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Seen from Polar Rover on 2015 Tundra Lodge trip

 

 

 

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Seen from Polar Rover on 2003 Churchill hotel based trip

 

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On this past trip, the ice formation was 10 days to 2 weeks ahead of schedule and it appeared an early freeze could occur. Early freezing may seem counter-intuitive with the general warming temps. But what happened during the span of my trip was that warmer temps from Alaska pushed the cold air down to the Hudson Bay area, accelerating conditions for a freeze.

 

But when I talked with some Churchill folks around Nov 22, after I was back home, the acceleration of bay ice had slowed, so there was not an early freeze in 2015 after all, from what I was told.

 

I think somewhere in the Nat Hab terms and conditions, it does guarantee at least one bear on these Oct/Nov trips. I have an acquaintance that went in 2014 on the last scheduled trip that left about Nov 20. She saw one distant polar bear. Two ladies on this 2015 Tundra Lodge trip had gone on the last scheduled Photographer Tundra Lodge Trip in 2013 and saw quite a few bears their first day. Then overnight the bay froze and they saw no more bears, so they were back to try again and were rewarded with about 50 sightings of about 25 bears, not including the helicopter ride. These two ladies did tell me that all members of their 2013 trip were given free helicopter rides for aerial viewing of a spot with more bears to help make up for the lack of bears seen around the Tundra Lodge or from the Polar Rover.

 

My strategy for the 2003 and 2015 trip was to go the last days of Oct or first days of Nov. I was entirely pleased with the results.

 

 

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One of the approximately 50 bear sightings from the 2015 Tundra Lodge trip, seen from the Polar Rover

 

 

 

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One of the approximately 40 bear sightings from the 2003 Churchill hotel-based trip Three of the approximately 50 bear sightings from the 2015 trip, seen at the GWB Tundra Lodge

 

The most popular time frame seems to be the first week of November, which is a tad later than the trips I chose, and that time frame usually books up first. Meaning almost 2 years in advance! All 29 of us on the Tundra Lodge trip had booked at least 18 months out, with the exception of a few people who were called due to a cancellation a month or two before the trip. I was told that all Natural Habitat Polar Bear trips, whether tundra lodge or hotel based, had 15 on the waiting list.

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Fleeting, single moment of “nice light” from the Polar Rover on the 2015 GWB Tundra Lodge trip

 

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Bears seen during about 2 hours of “nice light” from the Polar Rover on the 2003 Churchill hotel based trip

Heavily clouded skies and snow showers were typical weather. Although on both trips, the days we spent in Churchill were clear and sunny.

The tundra and the town of Churchill are close enough to have the same weather. Too much sun can be a problem, though, as it washes out the white bears.

 

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to be continued

Edited by Atravelynn
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Thank you for sharing this! Looks like you had some really nice sightings. But boy, does weather play into the "success" of a trip like this!

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Wonderful photographs of the beautiful bears! My favorite is the one taken on the Polar River showing the white bear in the dark bushes. The bushes set him off beautifully. It is a great report on your trip to Churchill and the details on how you did it are helpful. Thank you for posting.

 

Terry

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Fantastic report as always @@Atravelynn! You certainly got some outstanding photos. I am quite jealous :) .

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NATURAL HABITAT’S GREAT WHITE BEAR TUNDRA LODGE & ITINERARY

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Home for 4 nights on the tundra, and a most comfortable home at that--warm, quiet, excellent food, plenty of room to move around.

The Polar Rover is the "engine" on this trainlike structure. It disconnects and takes off for excursions on the tundra.

The Tundra Lodge trip I did spent 4 nights this past Oct 29-Nov 2 in the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge, allowing for three 4-ish hour outings in the Polar Rover on the tundra, away from the lodge. We also had excellent bear viewing right from the lodge, with a least one bear visible over half the time when it was possible to see out of the lodge.

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Bears enjoyed napping right outside the tundra lodge. All these bears are viewed from the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge, 2015 trip.

The blood on the bear's neck in the bottom of the collage is from eating a seal, a rare treat this time of year.

The lodge was floodlit at night until about 10 pm, so it was possible to see bears at night too. No flash photography so night shots weren’t that great.

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This was the only night shot I kept—a rarity to see a cub around the Tundra Lodge.

The fuzziness and smudged effect produced by the floodlight without a flash (flash is forbidden) was kind of cute

for this Cub of the Year (COY). Mom was nearby.

Almost all of the sparring activity I saw this trip was viewed from the lodge. The only sparring shot I got back in 2003 was when our Polar Rover was near the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge.

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Sparring bears from Polar Rover on 2003 Churchill hotel based trip. I distinctly remember these bears were near the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge

because I was a bit envious of the occupants who had a closer, better view of the encounter. That's when I thought to myself, "I'd like to try a tundra lodge trip someday if I am lucky enough to return."

I think the reason sparring is common near the tundra lodge is that the bears are drawn to it by the interesting smells of cooking and humans. It’s like a hangout where they meet, size each other up, and pick out a sparring partner of similar size and stature. Sparring is primarily a conditioning exercise to get their muscles in shape for seal hunting. It also serves as a way for males to determine a pecking order of strength so they know which bears they might challenge during mating season and which bears to run from. The sparring itself is not an aggressive or hostile act.

 

The ritual begins with mouthing. The bears gently nip each other with open mouths to gain trust. Both bears know that either could kill the other with a forceful bite. Once trust has been formed, they spar and wrestle to give their atrophied muscles a workout so they’ll be in top form for seal hunting on the ice.

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Mouthing then sparring. Viewed from the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge, 2015 trip

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Testing and building trust with mouthing. Viewed from the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge, 2015 trip

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Building strong bodies for hunting seals. Viewed from the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge, 2015 trip

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Winding down the sparring session. Viewed from the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge, 2015 trip.

 

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Sparring occurs around the clock. This was early in the morning with low light from the GWB Tundra Lodge, 2015.

 

The Great White Bear Tundra Lodge holds 29 people and has many windows that can be opened and left open for the duration of the bear viewing. Don’t take photos at the windows next to the warming stove because blurry “heat waves” will appear in the photo that are not evident in the viewfinder. A guide told me that. Between the stationary segments of the lodge there are outdoor observation decks that can be used 24 hours a day that allow about 8 people to have a nice view.

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The blood on the bear’s neck is from a seal carcass. Viewed from the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge, 2015 trip. Polar Bear looking rather wolf-like. Viewed from the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge, 2015 trip.

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Viewed from the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge, 2015 trip

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To be continued

Edited by Atravelynn
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Beautiful photos of great sightings. As always your practical details are much appreciated.

I am glad you put in pictures of the tundra lodge as I had no idea it was like this - very clever.

Great pictures of the bears sparring - but my favourite (so far) is the bear with the background of dark bushes - stunning.

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Very interesting report @@Atravelynn with some lovely images. Good you had so many sightings.

 

I also found the Tundra hotel images a surpise I had no idea it was so BIG.

 

Tell me, did you have to take masses of warm clothing or were you normally in a heated environment. I hate the cold so this could be useful to me to know more about that side of things

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boy, does weather play into the "success" of a trip like this!

Weather considerations start when deciding what day to arrive in Winnipeg, the starting point. It is recommended to allow one spare day in Winnipeg in case of delays and Nat Hab offers a nice nature-based program for the extra day. I went one day early each time and it gave me peace of mind, also some nice Ground Squirrel photos (2003) and Red Squirrel photos (2015).

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Ground Squirrel at Oak Hammock Marsh (2003) Red Squirrel at Fort Whyte Alive (2015)

Unpredictable weather is also why it is nice to have 4 nights out on the tundra. On our trip we were hearing from the guides about some wonderful sightings from a previous trip. We also were hearing about a 100 km/ hour windstorm that shut things down for about a day. Even the bears hunkered down and were inactive. It took a while to learn that these comments were about the same trip. So despite a bad stretch of weather, there were still opportunities for quality polar bear viewing.

Wonderful photographs of the beautiful bears! My favorite is the one taken on the Polar River showing the white bear in the dark bushes. The bushes set him off beautifully. It is a great report on your trip to Churchill and the details on how you did it are helpful.

That is a nice clean white bear! You know Churchill is just a couple of short plane rides from where you live. No time changes. And we even all share a somewhat similar accent, eh. You may wish to consider Churchill.

 

You certainly got some outstanding photos. I am quite jealous :) .

No need for any jealousy from someone who holds the "Goat Photograph of the Year."

 

Great pictures of the bears sparring - but my favourite (so far) is the bear with the background of dark bushes - stunning.

Yes, he posed nicely and had the decency to wash up before the photo shoot.

 

Tell me, did you have to take masses of warm clothing or were you normally in a heated environment. I hate the cold so this could be useful to me to know more about that side of things

The lodge was pleasantly warm inside--probably 58-68 F (sorry I'll leave the conversion to you). It was warm in the cabins to sleep at night. And this is from someone who is always cold. I had about 3 layers on the bottom and top most of the time and good quality, warm boots and mitten/glove combos. But no need to haul a parka and boots because you can order them compliments of Nat Hab when you book and pick them up in Winnipeg. Most people took advantage of that free perk. The parka and boots provided were very high quality gear. What made a big difference a couple of times when I was spending a lot of time on the outside observation deck was the warming packet Hot Hands. These little chemically warmed packets last for over 12 hours and get so warm you don't want them against your skin.

 

In sum, cold was not a problem for me or for the warm weather dwellers, including three from the UK.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Polar Rover outings that depart from the lodge have 14-16 people, with more than 1 double seat and a window per person. The windows are those used on school buses, with two clips that push in to raise them or lower them. Those clips can be temperamental. Despite my 7 years of school bus riding that included lots of window opening/closing and despite my decades of moderate weight lifting so I have reasonable arm strength, I usually needed help with the window opening and closing operations. Everybody did. The guides and Polar Rover driver were ready and willing to help. When driving around, sometimes the bumpiness of the ground randomly jarred the windows open. Keeping them closed was like a Whack-a-Mole game. The windows were high enough up to stick your camera out safely.

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Viewed from the Polar Rover on the GWB Tundra Lodge trip, 2015. The commonly seen Greywacke rocks line the Hudson Bay shores.

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Viewed from the Polar Rover on the GWB Tundra Lodge trip, 2015

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Viewed THROUGH the Polar Rover front window on the GWB Tundra Lodge trip, 2015. Thank you Polar Rover Driver Jason for making sure the expansive windshield was clean and clear!

Speaking of bumpiness and jarring, the Nat Hab pre-departure literature suggests if you are prone to motion sickness to bring the necessary medication. I am very prone to motion sickness, but was never even close to needing anything on the rover outings. The Polar Rovers go max 20 mph and we never hit that limit and most of the time they move much slower or you are stopped.

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Viewed from the Polar Rover on the GWB Tundra Lodge trip, 2015. These bears were not sparring at the lodge. Most of the sparring activity I was from the lodge.

Polar Rovers have a safe outdoor back porch/observation deck that allows about 8 people to have a nice view and can be used whenever the Polar Rover is not in motion. They also have a bathroom that can be used whenever the Polar Rover is not in motion. The Polar Rover used for the driving excursions from the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge is the same type of vehicle as is used for excursions from Churchill.

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Here are inside and outside views of the Polar Rover used in excursions from town and from the GWB Tundra Lodge.

The animal heads obscure the people, who may want anonymity. We did not actually invite the polar bears or other creatures into the vehicle with us. :)

For at least one hour in the morning, there are no vehicles from town on the tundra. By about 4 pm only those vehicles from town that are spending the night on the tundra remain. Therefore one distinct advantage the tundra lodge offers is time moving around the tundra in the Polar Rovers (not just being out there) without other vehicles. I think there are 7 or 8 roving vehicles total amongst all companies operating in the 850,000-hectare Churchill Wilderness Management Area.

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Viewed from the Polar Rover on the GWB Tundra Lodge trip, 2015


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To be continued

Edited by Atravelynn
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Can you explain Cub of the Year? I'm completely new to polar bears, so wondering if that mom just has one cub, and that's it, or maybe this is the one cub in the region?

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Can you explain Cub of the Year? I'm completely new to polar bears, so wondering if that mom just has one cub, and that's it, or maybe this is the one cub in the region?

Cub of the Year = The cub's first year. Most cubs are born around Jan, so a "Cub of the Year" or COY would be 10-11 months old. Cubs stay with their mother 2 or 3 years. I saw 2-year old cubs (actually 1 year and 10-11 month old cubs) on the previous trip in 2003.

 

Moms can have up to 3 cubs but that's rare. Two cubs is common--or it used to be. The last few years one cub is more common than two because the mothers have less fat on them due to a shortened seal hunting season caused by warmer weather.

 

Good question!

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@@Atravelynn Thanks so much for a very interesting report. I enjoy reading the detailed information and the polar bear facts. Quite fascinating to see them sparring. Wonderful photos, especially those of the mother and cub.

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I confess that I keep confusing whether orange or blue text is for 2003 or 2015 (my shortcoming entirely, and thank you for distinguishing), but the color that entrances me most is white....Just wonderful all the way around. (Not to mention perfect for the season for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere!)

 

All of your photographs are just mezmorizing, but I have to agree with @@TonyQ that the bear amidst the dark colored foliage is especially captivating.

 

Of course, it looks like there were some quite interesting creatures aboard the Polar Rover, too.

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Ok, I had to read that last one twice--I was thinking, what the heck kind of weird group, why are they all wearing animal masks?? Some kind of strange initiation party? Snow madness?? Took me a moment!! :o:lol:

 

Of course, amazing shots. Love the mom and cub!

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Amazing, Lynn .......

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Just wow, Lynn, I had no idea there's a place where one can see so many Polar bears. Wonderful stuff. Like Janzin I was quite fascinated why people would put on bear masks but just thought maybe they want to really get into Polar Bear mood. :)

 

I especially kove the 'trust-building" and sparring photos.

 

It's often said that Polar Bears are one of the most dangerous predators for humans, did the guides say anything about that?

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Great report, @@Atravelynn ! I will forward it to our friends in Vancouver Island, Canada. They have mentioned that they have an apartment in Churchill ... maybe they are willing to rent it :) .

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On 12/11/2015 at 11:31 PM, janzin said:

Ok, I had to read that last one twice--I was thinking, what the heck kind of weird group, why are they all wearing animal masks?? Some kind of strange initiation party? Snow madness?? Took me a moment!! :o:lol:

Yes, snow madness. That could be an interesting plot for a mystery novel set in a tundra lodge.

 

On 12/12/2015 at 2:31 AM, madaboutcheetah said:

Amazing, Lynn .......

Maybe some day you'll be mad about polar bears too.

 

On 12/12/2015 at 11:52 AM, michael-ibk said:

Like Janzin I was quite fascinated why people would put on bear masks but just thought maybe they want to really get into Polar Bear mood. :)

 

There will be another polar bear mood costume before the end of the report.

 

On 12/12/2015 at 11:52 AM, michael-ibk said:

It's often said that Polar Bears are one of the most dangerous predators for humans, did the guides say anything about that?

Your question prompts a sneak peak at the quote of the trip! Referring to the bears’ curiosity in the polar rover, one of the guides said,

 

“The polar bears are trying to figure out how to open this can of humans.”

 

The bears stretch up the side of the rover and their fascination with the welded metal pipes and connections underneath the rover were driven by a predator instinct and we were the prey.

 

On 12/12/2015 at 2:53 PM, xelas said:

Great report, @@Atravelynn ! I will forward it to our friends in Vancouver Island, Canada. They have mentioned that they have an apartment in Churchill ... maybe they are willing to rent it :) .

They could probably pay for their place on Vancouver Island if they rented it during polar bear season. Churchill is a popular place at that time.

 

 

On 12/11/2015 at 7:07 PM, Pennyanne said:

@@Atravelynn Thanks so much for a very interesting report. I enjoy reading the detailed information and the polar bear facts.

There are 11 facts total, one in the form of a photo caption. Thanks!

Edited by Atravelynn
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I confess that I keep confusing whether orange or blue text is for 2003 or 2015 (my shortcoming entirely, and thank you for distinguishing), but the color that entrances me most is white....Just wonderful all the way around. (Not to mention perfect for the season for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere!)

 

And woe to those that are colorbind!

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2015 Natural Habitat Great White Bear Tundra Lodge Itinerary

Oct 27

Fly to Winnipeg and o/nt Fort Garry Hotel. All Nat Hab polar bear programs stay here. I went one day early in case of bad weather, which is encouraged. Nat Hab offers a really nice one day outing for early arrivals.

 

 

Oct 28

Natural Habitat’s Optional Day in Winnipeg Program includes the Manitoba Museum with a docent and Fort Whyte Alive, a natural area and organic farm. The museum focuses on the history, culture, and geography of Churchill. There is a touchable polar bear at Fort Whyte Alive. There is also a semi-wild buffalo herd in a fenced area that we drove near.

 

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Fort Whyte Alive, a nature and education center with an organic farm. The deer are at Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg where there is a Winnie the Pooh Statue.

Brief Winnie the Pooh history:

During WWI , troops from Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada) were being transported by train to eastern Canada, on their way to Europe, where they would join the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade. When the train stopped at White River, Ontario, Lieutenant Harry Colebourn bought a small female black bear cub for $20 from a hunter who had killed its mother. He named her 'Winnipeg', after his hometown of Winnipeg, and called here 'Winnie' for short.

Winnie became the mascot of the Brigade and went to Britain with the unit. When the Brigade was sent to France, Colebourn, promoted to a Captain, took Winnie to the London Zoo for a long loan. He formally presented the London Zoo with Winnie in December 1919 where the bear became a popular attraction and lived until 1934.

Christopher Robin, son of author A. A. Milne enjoyed watching the bear and spent hours sitting near its cage. That was the inspiration for the children's stories.

It is also possible to skip the day in Winnipeg and arrive the day before the polar bear trip begins, getting to Fort Garry Hotel in time for the 7 pm welcome dinner, the night before heading to Churchill.

 

 

 

Oct 29

Morning flight on Nat Hab’s Comair Charter to Churchill, a 2.5 hour flight.

 

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Left: You wear your boots on the plane, whether provided by Nat Hab or those from home. We were encouraged to remove the boots for the 2.5 hour flight.

Right: Branding the charter. Top: The storage bin is small. But there is an option to hand over non-checked luggage

upon boarding that is too big for the overhead or for under the seat. I think you retrieve it planeside after landing.

Bus transfer to the Polar Rover. Lunch on the Polar Rover as it roves the tundra in search of bears and other wildlife on a 3 hour leisurely transport to the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge. All 29 participants are on the Polar Rover, meaning most double seats have an occupant in each. Get to the Tundra Lodge at 4 pm.

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We arrived at the Great White BearTundra Lodge at 4pm as light was waning, which resulted in a nice effect from the floodlights.

 

Oct 30, 31, Nov 1

Half the group goes on a 4-ish hour morning Polar Rover drive (about 8-noon) or a 4-ish hour afternoon Polar Rover drive (about 1-5). The other half remains at the tundra lodge, which also has bear activity around it. This allows for 3 outings per person away from the lodge in the roomy rover: 2 morns & 1 aft OR 1 morn & 2 afts. You must switch off and cannot sign up (there is a sheet) for all mornings or all afternoons.

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View from the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge, 2015. It was common to see more than one bear at a time and fit them both in the view finder.

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View from the Polar Rover on an excursion from the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge, 2015

 

The result is 14-16 people aboard the Polar Rover with more than 1 double seat and window per person. Polar Rovers have a safe outdoor back porch/observation deck that allows about 8 people to have a nice view and can be used whenever the Polar Rover is not in motion. All options--morning outings, afternoon outings, morning or afternoon at the lodge--have great potential. I never gave up any Rover outings, but you could have an enjoyable and rewarding trip never departing the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge.

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One of 2 Arctic Foxes seen from the GWB Tundra Lodge in 2015

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Viewed from the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge, 2015

 

For those not on the Polar Rover who remained back at the lodge and for everyone in the evening, the guides would give presentations on the Arctic or Polar Bears or the town and culture of Churchill. Plus one presentation on photography. The presentations were optional and always halted when interesting bear activity occurred. There are 2 guides for 29 people, allowing each group to always have a guide on hand. We had Justin, a biologist and bear & photography expert and Bonnie, a Churchill native and one of the founders of polar bear tourism, who is a nationally recognized birder—and her passion for birds was evident. We saw Snowy Owl, Gyrfalcon, Snow Buntings, Common Eider, Common Raven, Ptarmigan, and Herring Gull. Outstanding, both of them, and especially outstanding in combination

 

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This black tongue was viewed from the Polar Rover, 2015 trip

To be continued

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It is uncommon to see bears eating protein this time of year. A seal had washed ashore giving the bears something to consume at this normally barren time of year. From the Polar Rover on the GWB Tundra Lodge Trip, 2015

 

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The bears had to work much harder for their morsels than we did, engaging in some tussles for the last remains of the seal carcass. Seen from the Polar Rover on the GWB Tundra Lodge Trip, 2015.

Unlike the bears, we had 3 wonderfully prepared meals each day. Truly outstanding food.

 

Lodge Manager, Robin was a Churchill native and had fascinating insights and some wild tales. He had taped some interviews with local First Nation people that he informally showed some of us. Fascinating stuff.

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To the victors (of the seal meat tussle) go the spoils. With that philosophy in mind Guides Justin and Bonnie proposed an unusual deviation to our group so that we might all be victors of good polar bear sightings near the seal carcass. They suggested we all go out together the first morning in the Polar Rover from the Tundra Lodge because the possibilities of special encounters were high due to the dead seal. By afternoon, the carcass might be consumed. To show the level of investment they had in their clients’ satisfaction, they admitted not sleeping much at all the night before this outing because they weren’t sure what we might see or how all 29 in the Rover would go over. The result was a rousing success in every respect and they slept better the next night except for the Aurora Borealis alarms they set.

 

The sleeping cabins were private quarters for one, with a solid door. No doubles. Every other bunk was an upper or lower. You can request a lower. Beds were comfortable. The whole lodge, including the cabins, was warm enough and I’m always cold. The Polar Rover was warm enough too, but we all wore our coats most of the time.

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Inside the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge—dining room and lounge area. Wine chilling on the observation deck.

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Lower bunk cabin on left. Upper bunk cabin on right. All cabins are singles. The hallway between cabins on the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge

They are compact but comfortable

 

 

 

Plenty of spots to charge camera batteries 24/7. Same outlets as in US.

 

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The polar bear is displaying the type of plug or adapter needed in Canada.

Each night in the lodge, the guides would set their alarms to wake up in the night to check for the Aurora Borealis. We all had signs on our doors stating whether we wished to be awakened or not. It was too cloudy during our trip to see it. For photographs of the Aurora Borealis, a tripod would be needed. If photographing on the outside observation decks of the lodge, it was suggested in the packing materials to bring slit tennis balls to keep the tripod legs from falling through the grating. Good advice for daytime tripod photography on the deck too. There were also tennis balls provided at the Tundra Lodge. (Not shilling for Nat Hab, but they do a Feb Northern Lights trip in Churchill. No bears at that time. One couple on the tundra lodge trip had been on that “Northern Light” trip and said they saw nice aerial shows and got some good photos, but the cold wreaked havoc on exposed fingers and camera battery life.)

 

Nov 2

Vacate the lodge at 7:00 am. Early morning “game” drive across the tundra back to Churchill in the Polar Rover with the full group of 29. Churchill City tour in two smaller vans, where it is possible to see fox and even the rare polar bear. (There was a bear on the loose when we were there and some of our group saw/photographed it in town.) It may be possible to witness a polar bear helicopter transfer to/from the “jail,” a humane operation that saves polar bear lives. We saw it.

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Bears that venture too close to town are captured and taken to "jail." It is easy to house the bears because all they need is a block of ice to drink from. At this time of year they

would not be eating anyway. When a helicopter is available, the bears are flown far from town. This relocation saves polar bear lives and perhaps lives of Churchill residents.

After a very interesting guided Eskimo Museum visit, an opportunity to get your passport stamped with the Churchill logo, shopping, and lunch, the 2.5 hour Nat Hab Comair Charter back to Winnipeg landed about 6:00 pm, in time for the 7:00 pm farewell drinks and substantial hors d'oeuvres--more than enough to be considered dinner. Overnight back at Fort Garry.

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In Churchill

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Mother and Cub of the Year (COY), seen from the Polar Rover, 2015

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To be continued

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NATURAL HABITAT CHURCHILL-BASED HOTEL TRIP & ITINERARY

The Churchill hotel-based trip that I did in 2003 spent Oct 28th and the afternoon of 31st on the tundra.

 

Current Churchill hotel-based itineraries now usually do 2 full days on the tundra in the daylight—2 mornings and 2 afternoons—about two 8-hour days. They also do a night on the tundra to look for the aurora borealis and for bears. There are16 max participants on the Polar Rover, allowing for more than 1 double seat and a window per person. The windows are those used on school buses, with two clips that push in to raise them up or down. Those clips can be temperamental. Despite my 7 years of school bus riding experience that included lots of window opening/closing and despite my decades of moderate weight lifting so I have reasonable arm strength, I usually needed help with the window opening and closing operations. Everybody did. The guides and Polar Rover driver were ready and willing to help. When driving around, sometimes the bumpiness of the ground jarred the windows open. Keeping them closed was like a Whack-a-Mole game. The windows were high enough up to stick your camera out safely.

 

Speaking of bumpiness and jarring, the Nat Hab pre-departure literature suggests if you are prone to motion sickness to bring the necessary medication. I am very prone to motion sickness, but was never even close to needing anything on the rover outings. The Polar Rovers go max 20 mph and we never hit that limit and most of the time they move much slower or you are stopped.

 

Polar Rovers have a safe outdoor back porch/observation deck that allows about 8 people to have a nice view and can be used whenever the Polar Rover is not in motion. They also have a bathroom that can be used whenever the Polar Rover is not in motion. The Polar Rover used for excursions from Churchill is the same type of vehicle as is used for the driving excursions from the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge.

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Seen from Polar Rover on Churchill hotel based trip in 2003

My itinerary from back in 2003 also utilized another bear lodge that we helicoptered to in between the Churchill-based days on the tundra in the Polar Rover. But it burnt down (just one week after I was there in 2003) and is not part of any itinerary now.

 

2003 Natural Habitat Churchill Hotel-based trip itinerary on the “Ultimate Polar Bear” Itinerary

Crossout means that activity is not done now.

 

Oct 25

Fly to Winnipeg and o/nt Fort Garry Hotel. All Nat Hab polar bear programs stay here. I went one day early in case of bad weather, which is encouraged. Nat Hab offers a really nice one day outing for early arrivals.

 

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Along Hudson Bay from the air.

 

 

Oct 26

Day in Winnipeg at Oak Hammock Marsh back then, again optional. Welcome/orientation dinner at 7 pm the night before the polar bear departure.

 

Current trips: Natural Habitat’s Optional Day in Winnipeg Program includes the Manitoba Museum with a docent and Fort Whyte Alive, a natural area and organic farm. The museum focuses on the history, culture, and geography of Churchill. There is a touchable polar bear at Fort Whyte Alive. There is also a semi-wild buffalo herd in a fenced area that we drove near.

 

It is also possible to skip the day in Winnipeg and arrive the day before the polar bear trip begins, getting to Fort Garry Hotel in time for the 7 pm welcome dinner, the night before heading to Churchill.

 

 

Oct 27

Fly to Churchill in the morning. All trips now use the Nat Hab Comair Charter. We did a 2-hour helicopter trip out of Churchill to look for bears at Fox Island that was part of the itinerary. We landed and walked around a little to see some polar bears on foot at a respectable distance but approaching; we went into a vacated polar bear den; we got to see red fox, snowy owl, moose, and 50 bears from the air.

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Polar bears and moose from the helicopter, part of the Ultimate Polar Bear Churchill hotel-based trip.

 

Oct 28

Full day (about 8-9 hours) on tundra with packed lunch. Bus from Churchill to the Polar Rover, then board the Polar Rover.

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Seen from Polar Rover on Churchill based hotel trip in 2003

Oct 29-30

White Whale Lodge aka “Mothers and Cubs Lodge.” This lodge burnt down and was never rebuilt. If it ever were rebuilt, I’d seriously consider going back to this excellent location.

 

Oct 31

Back to Churchill from White Whale Lodge and out on the tundra for the afternoon. That night we drove in a van with our guide to the edge of town to look for the aurora borealis and saw it.

 

 

 

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Seen from Polar Rover on Churchill based hotel trip in 2003 Not my photo. Sent to me by another trip member in 2003.

 

 

11-01

Full day in Churchill for cultural activities. That evening, the Polar Rover went out for a Night on the Tundra to look for the aurora borealis and for bears at night. We parked near the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge, which had floodlights, and saw a few bears and Arctic hare, but no “Northern Lights.” As a Tundra Lodge occupant in 2015, we saw the Polar Rovers that came for their “Night on the Tundra” and used our floodlit area. There is a rule as to how close the Rovers can get to the lodge and they were never intrusive.

 

 

11-02

Dog sledding in the morning. It may be possible to witness a polar bear helicopter transfer to/from the “jail,” a humane operation that saves polar bear lives. We saw it.

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Dog sledding – trip lasted about 45 minutes. Mother and 2-3 year old cub that came too close to town have been sedated and will be flown away from Churchill.

Hot Hands warming devices for hands and feet are useful on this activity. This trip may save their lives.

 

 

 

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Arctic fox, seen at airport

 

Fly back to Winnipeg in time for the 7:00 pm farewell drinks and substantial hors d'oeuvres. It is more than enough to be considered dinner.

 

The Churchill hotels chosen (don’t recall the names) were nice and very warm. The restaurants were enjoyable with great food, and we were made aware of the local specialties. The Polar Rover was warm enough too, but we all wore our coats most of the time.

 

I went solo on the 2003 trip (just like the 2015 trip), but because I was willing to share with another female, I only paid the single supplement at Fort Garry. In Churchill I was paired up with another woman. That may still be the arrangement/offer. It cut my trip costs a lot. In contrast, the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge trip has a small single supplement, only for Fort Garry, because everyone is in their own single cabin at the lodge.

 

I still remember my roommate from the 2003 hotel-based trip--a delightful, brilliant, and unpredictable woman, who had seen the world. She had earned a couple of PhD’s in different types of chemistry and was one of the creators of Viagra. She brought blue Viagra pen/flashlight combos for us all. Our trip was during Halloween and she really wanted to see the Simpsons Halloween Special that aired a couple of days before 10/31 and was so relieved it was not on when we were at the White Whale Lodge with no reception or out looking for Northern Lights. She washed her hair, set it in plastic curlers, turned on the Simpsons and was in a state of bliss that evening, watching Homer go Halloweening.

 

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This recent trip also included Halloween and I was ready for it with homemade pair of polar bear ears that I thought would be kind of funny—short of a full costume, but exhibiting an air of festivity.

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As far as trick or treating goes, the trick was on me. When I wore my polar bear ears to dinner on Halloween night, no one noticed.

They must have just thought, “Strange how attached she is to those poorly aligned and ineffective ear muffs to insist on wearing them even at mealtime.”

After a whole meal with no reaction, it would have been awkward to point and say, “Look at me! I’m a polar bear.” Or, “Guess what I am for Halloween?”

So I just took them off. There were some folks with more wild getups that left no doubt they were Halloween costumes, like as eyeballs on a spring.

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Real polar bear ear taken from the GWB Tundra Lodge, 2015

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Quotes of the Trips

 

In 2003, this double-quote belonged to one of the helicopter pilots.

 

“In the winter the ice gets so thick on the copter blades I have to push it off with a stick ‘afore startin’ ‘er up. “

 

“In the summer the bugs get so thick on the copter blades I have to push them off with a stick ‘afore startin’ ‘er up.”

 

I concluded sticks must be standard issue in the copter pilot kits.

 

 

In 2015 the quote belonged to our guide Justin when he described the bears' reaction to us in the Polar Rover.

 

“The polar bears are trying to figure out how to open this can of humans.”

Justin’s comment underscored the predator-prey equation on the tundra in which we were the prey. Unlike other predators I have encountered that have some fear of humans, or even disinterest, these polar bears showed no fear and actively tried to reach us, not just out of curiosity. They would try to manipulate or paw at the pipes and welded joints under the vehicle to find a way in. They were hungry and wanted to obtain food—us.

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Polar Rover Observation Deck Floor, 2015 Trip

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Polar Rover Observation Deck Floor, 2015 Trip on left. Polar Rover Observation Deck Floor, 2003 Trip on right

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Polar bear stretching up the side of the vehicle, seen in 2003 from our Polar Rover.

The bears did do this to the Polar Rover on both trips.

Guests were instructed when outside either on the rover or at the lodge not to wear long scarves, or anything that hangs from the body. One guy forgot and his lengthy wool scarf was flapping in the wind. The guide immediately barked the order to “remove that scarf right now or go inside.” The polar bear could grab a flapping scarf that hung down within its reach and pull the tourist right over the side of the vehicle, which would not end well for the tourist.

 

 

To be continued

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What I wore for the Tundra Lodge or Churchill-based trip (Nat Hab provides a complete packing list too):

- No hanging scarves…

- Long underwear, top and bottom

- Turtleneck

- Wool tights

- Fleece bottoms

- Rain Pants

- a couple of warm fleecey-type layers on top to interchange under the parka and for brief excursions outside on the observation deck when a full parka is not needed.

- warm socks, including sock liners

- warm gloves and mittens—I never wore the good quality fleece lined gloves that I had bought for the trip and always preferred my glove/mitten combo.

 

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Heat Holders is the brand name for the glove/mitten combo and socks I took.

 

- ear muffs or head band AND warm wool hat AND balaclava. I also brought a ski mask with eye holes but didn’t wear it because the wind never whipped up beyond average. But I wished I had that mask on the windier trip back in 2003.

 

Average wind speed is 28 km per hour on the tundra with gusts and that’s what makes it seem so cold. The trip before us had winds of 100 km per hour.

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This is a “flag tree” which is a White Spruce with many of the branches missing on one side. That’s because the wind blows from the direction of the missing branches and blasts them off. There are a couple of spindly branches on the naked side at the bottom of the tree. Those lower branches are often protected from the wind damage when they are covered up by snow. But the snow only reaches so high.

 

- Nat Hab provides a complimentary high quality warm parka, issued back in Winnipeg. You order it when booking the trip. I was one of about 3 people who brought my own parka.

 

- Nat Hab provides complimentary high quality warm boots with a felt bootie liner, issued back in Winnipeg. You order them when booking the trip. I was one of about 3 people who brought my own boots--calf height Winter Muck Boots, good to -20 F.

 

- Cleats or Clamps for boots are suggested in the packing list for around Churchill because it is very icy. I had some with me, but did not put them on. I just walked slowly and carefully. For the Churchill-based hotel trip, the cleats would be used more as it was necessary to walk to breakfast and dinner.

 

- Hand and feet warming packets. I only used them a couple of times, but they provided welcome and lasting toastiness in the cold. They would be especially useful for dogsledding. These Hot Hands warming packets cannot be packed in carry-on luggage and must be checked. For the Nat Hab chartered Comair flight it was ok to carry them on the plane.

 

- Binoculars

 

- For the Tundra Lodge, all belongings should fit into one bag, which can have wheels. And you can take a carry-on to the lodge. There is free storage with the Nat Hab staff for other luggage at Fort Garry back in Winnipeg and all polar bear trips return to Fort Garry for one night after departing Churchill.

 

- US Dollars. Upon arrival when I asked about changing money, I was told by the Nat Hab driver that it was not needed for the trip. And it was not for those carrying US dollars. Tips in USD were fine.

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What I wore, minus the hat, and my long parka is unzipped. The coldest part of the trip was out and about in Churchill. I’m standing in front of an Inushuk.

This Churchill Inushuk is ornamental but their original purpose was a marker or navigational aid because they look like a person who is pointing. They also were used as memorials.

Camera info

Of course, that was on the packing list, along with a reminder to check the lens for fogging up when going from the warm to cold conditions. I kept my Canon SX50 in the ample fanny pack Nat Hab provided me, and never had a problem with fogging.

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Seen from the e GWB Tundra Lodge and the Polar Rover, 2015

 

I used “The Pod” beanbag with a bolt (thanks @@michael-ibk and @@AndMic for introducing me to this handy device) and even with The Pod bolted onto the camera, it still fit in the Nat Hab fanny pack. Back in 2003 I took a monopod. For the Tundra Lodge trip, I had brought a tripod that converts to a monopod, but did not use it. It would have been mostly for Northern Lights, which did not appear. Nobody else used a tripod, or even a monopod. One or two people brought a big bean bag and there happened to be one in the Polar Rover that was put to use. For the Photography trips (which this was not), Nat Hab provides bean bags.

 

Batteries could be charged in each cabin and in other places around the lodge.

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Seen from the Polar Rover on the GWB Tundra Lodge Trip, 2015

Conditions can be challenging in the tundra for photography between precipitation, changing temps, frozen fingers, distant subjects, a high angle looking down on the bears, low light, or on the other hand bring sun that washes out the bears. Guide Justin was a photo expert who did one of his evening presentations on getting better pictures and also helped everybody with questions from how to turn off the flash to more advanced stuff. The ladies that had done the Photography departure in 2013 said that most of the presentations on that trip were photography-related and not culture or polar bear biology, etc.

 

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When the bear is near the lodge or rover, it can be a sharp angle down for pictures.

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Sunrise shots taken from the GWB Tundra Lodge

I still recall one disappointed serious photographer that I met on my 2003 trip who was with another group. Despite the beauty of the bears and the landscapes he summed up the trip with a disgusted grunt and the comment, “Bad light, dirty bears.”

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Even when bad light and dirty bears combined, a compelling photo could be made. Seen from the GWB Tundra Lodge, 2015.

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Haunted Fort Garry

Here’s how the story goes. Back in the 1920s a newlywed couple had checked into Room 202. The bride asked the groom to go across the street to the pharmacy and pick up some medication. Sadly, the groom was struck and killed while crossing the street. Some sources state it was a carriage and others an automobile. The bride was so distraught over his death that she killed herself in Room 202. How, I don’t know. But ever since there have been haunted happenings on the second floor and in Room 202.

 

Back in 2003 two unrelated guests on the second floor spent the night in the lobby because of the commotion in their rooms that included metal clothes hangers clanking around in the closet. These two guests were leaving for the polar bears the next day and had definitely wanted a good night’s sleep. They did not seem to be seeking attention or playing games when I encountered them in the morning.

 

On the 2015 trip I was not assigned Room 202, but while roaming around Fort Garry I encountered an Alaskan guide I had known who was now working for Nat Hab. Our conversation turned to Room 202. He said that one of his guests was assigned that room and was not too happy about it. I immediately offered to trade with this guest and emphasized how thrilled I would be to swap. We ended up making the switch and I had Room 202 for two nights with nothing out of the normal occurring.

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Room 202 in Fort Garry Hotel, Winnipeg

Polar Rover & Tundra Buggy ~ AND ~ Great White Bear & Frontiers North

It is not just semantics between Rover and Buggy. Tundra Buggies are used by the company Frontiers North and Polar Rovers are used by Great White Bear, which is the ground operator of Natural Habitat. Although both all-terrain vehicles have bus-like carriages and shoulder-height wheels, there are differences.

 

Tundra Buggies have 4-wheel drive. Polar Rovers have 6-wheel drive, allowing for more maneuverability and a smoother ride. From what I heard in Churchill, that anti-nausea medication suggested in the packing list might be needed more on the Tundra Buggy than the Polar Rover. (Nat Hab literature suggested bringing motion sickness meds if one is prone to that, but none of us found any medication necessary in the Polar Rover.)

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Seen from Polar Rover on GWB Tundra Lodge trip, 2015

Tundra Buggies don’t have a toilet in them, I don’t believe. Both Tundra Buggies and Polar Rovers are heated.

 

Frontiers North also utilizes helicopters on the tundra, not sure whether for rides or transportation, but three of the helicopters blocked our passage about 15 minutes one afternoon and likely contributed to us missing out on a sighting of a mother and at least one cub. By the time the helicopters took off, the bears we had been tracking on the horizon were long gone and we could not relocate them. There is no offroading so we could not go around the helicopters that had landed in the road.

 

There are other companies besides Frontiers North and Natural Habitat that offer polar bear visits, but be sure the company can go beyond the“Halfway Point.” Some of the licenses forbid access beyond the “Halfway Point.” There may be no bears between Churchill and Halfway Point (this trip there weren’t any bears for us in that section) and being prohibited from venturing farther into the Management Area where the bears are would be a big disappointment. We even met people from Tauk Tours (an expensive travel company) who were using a ground operator limited to Halfway Point.

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Gyrfalcon seen near Halfway Point on Polar Rover enroute to the GWB Tundra Lodge from Churchill, 2015

Both Great White Bear and Frontiers North operate tundra lodges in sections of the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. GWB’s is the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge and FN’s is the Tundra Buggy Lodge. Each company has agreed to keep its vehicles from entering a designated zone around the other’s lodge.

 

The GWB Tundra Lodge accommodates 29 people in single private enclosed bunk-cabins with a wooden door for privacy. The FN Tundra Buggy Lodge accommodates 40 people in quad bunks, 2 up and 2 down. I think you can pull a curtain across your bunk.

 

The GWB Polar Rover excursions from the GWB Tundra Lodge take 14-16 people for a morning OR an afternoon outing. Half of the day you remain at the lodge. The FN Tundra Buggy Excursions from the Tundra Buggy Lodge take 20 people per vehicle (that holds 40) for both morning and afternoon outings from the lodge.

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Seen from Polar Rover on GWB Tundra Lodge trip, 2015

It is possible to stay for a max of 5 nights on the tundra in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area with Frontiers North, whereas 4 nights on the tundra is the max with Great White Bear, except for one of the Photography Tour Tundra Lodge departures later in the season.

 

Frontiers North is the only company allowed to operate on Cape Churchill, a different location from the Churchill Wildlife Management Area tundra lodges and this trip runs near the end of November, ending approximately November 28. The Cape Churchill Tundra Buggy Lodge is located at the end of Wapusk National Park on Cape Churchill, the last spot to freeze along the Hudson Bay within the vicinity of Churchill. Trips spend 8 nights at this lodge, I believe. This area is supposed to have the biggest bears in the highest concentrations.

 

In speaking with FN about their Cape Churchill trip, they stated that sometimes the first days of that trip are at the (regular) Tundra Buggy Lodge in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area due to ice conditions. Then when it is optimal to move to Cape Churchill, the Tundra Buggy Lodge is relocated and the rest of the trip takes place at Cape Churchill. It depends on where the bears are. At Cape Churchill there are also 40 occupants in the Tundra Buggy Lodge, but there are 4 Tundra Buggies to take guests out twice a day with 10 people to a buggy.

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Seen from Polar Rover on GWB Tundra Lodge trip, 2015

 

Great White Bear and Natural Habitat are synonymous for the Oct/Nov Polar Bear season. You cannot book Great White Bear directly. You must go through Nat Hab. For Frontiers North trips, you go direct through Frontiers North.

 

I don’t know about Frontiers North or any other company, but Natural Habitat provides two (not one, but two) quality luggage tags. They have partnered with World Wildlife Fund and all clients get a two (not one but two) year subscription to the WWF member magazine.

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One photo is from 2003 and one is from 2015

So, is Natural Habitat's Great White Bear Tundra Lodge better or is the Churchill based hotel trip better? Some guests on the Churchill based trip told me they could not stand to be cooped up for 4 nights in the Tundra Lodge. It's true you cannot leave, but the overall space is more than I have had on small ship trips I have taken. I saw people jogging in Churchill, just along the main streets, which is not possible at the Tundra Lodge. The # of hours of bear viewing is higher at the Tundra Lodge because you never leave their environment. Bears are attracted to the smells of the lodge, so there is often at least one bear in sight. An advantage of the town-based trip is that the group is smaller (16 vs. 29) so you get to know people better and all experiences are shared; there is no splitting the group where it is possible some have better sightings than the others. As mentioned earlier, the vehicles from the tundra lodges are out about an hour before the vehicles arrive from town and the those from town leave about an hour before the Tundra Lodge dwellers must head back.

 

But you don't have to choose between the tundra lodge and staying in Churchill. Nat Hab has a trip toward the front end of the season that does both.

http://www.nathab.com/polar-bear-tours/tundra-lodge-town-adventure/itinerary/

 

This 4th trip with Natural Habitat was outstanding, just like the other ones. Only 42 more to catch that lady who has gone 46 times. But for me to have any chance of passing her up, she’ll have to start staying home.

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The End 2015 The End 2003

Edited by Atravelynn
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Wow, great report @@Atravelynn. The detail is great for those of us seriously considering this trip some time. I know my wife will ask me this question, so I need to ask you. How was the bathroom/shower situation at the lodge and the bathroom on the rover?

 

I will certainly bookmark this report and refer to it in the future. Loved that you combined reports from both trips.

 

Thanks for sharing!

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@@Atravelynn, fantastic report on a location that's high on my wishlist. It's just so far waaayyy up there from waaayyy down here. great to see the comparison between the companies/lodges. Seems nothing was overlooked on your trip, right down to the chilling wine bottles with the Polar Bear labels. Having the Polar Bear looking up at you through the metal mesh floor must be so exciting, hope they check all those screws and bolts regularly. Truly magnificent creatures.

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